Flinders helps build high-tech assistive housing

Photograph courtesy of the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion

Flinders University this week joined in the launch of a new high-tech housing development that will enable people with disabilities to live independently in the community.

As part of the State Government’s Woodville West Urban Renewal Project, eight ‘smart living’ apartments featuring cutting-edge assistive technologies have been purpose-built for people with disabilities, based on expert advice from Flinders engineers.

The University’s Medical Device Partnering Program (MDPP) has provided design advice and technical specifications to the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion to ensure the building is equipped with remote support and in-home monitoring for people who would otherwise need 24-hour onsite care.

Former MDPP product development manager Mr Geoff Cottrell, who chaired the project’s technology working group, said the apartments incorporate cutting-edge technologies including sensory alerts to make emergency calls, smart communications such as Skype on TV, automatic intercoms, passive monitoring and remote controls for doors, blinds, light switches and appliances.

“As the residents require remote assistance from support workers nearby, strong communication and environmental control technologies needed to be put in place to support this new model of care,” Mr Cottrell said.

“The technology we used will ensure voice and video connection to staff onsite and offsite, control of the internal environment, fault tolerance such as a power failure and emergency call and alarm facilities,” he said.

Mr Cottrell, who worked alongside Flinders University technical expert Mr Craig Peacock on the project, said the development showcased cutting-edge technology-based care systems, providing both cost benefits and quality of life.

“The apartments are a major step forward in housing for people with a disability, offering the opportunity to refine and develop leading-edge technologies and maximise people’s choices and control over their own lives,” Mr Cottrell said.

“The lessons learnt in this project could also be transferred to other disability settings, as well as to the homes of older people

Funded by the State Government, the MDPP supports the development of innovative medical devices and assistive technologies through unique collaborations between researchers, industry, clinical end-users and government.

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